From the Galpoghor Series:
The Story of the Pine-apple Girl
Once upon a time there lived in a country a fun-loving indolent young man. He hardly ever did any useful work. The princess of that land used to go to a lake every day to take her bath. After taking her bath in the lake she would fill her earthen pitcher with water and carry the same back to her home. The happy-go-lucky, lazy young man watched her daily from a distance but did not dare indulge in any prank or mischief.
One day the princess had her bath in the lake, filled her pitcher with water and started back for her home when our naughty youth suddenly threw a stone at the princess' pitcher. The pitcher broke into pieces and fell on the ground in a hundred fragments. The princess returned home in tears.
Now the King had three wives. All the three queens, however, had but this one daughter among themselves. When the princess came back home weeping all the three queens became very angry and upset. On enquiry they learnt that the idle, good-for-nothing, mischievous young man had broken the princess' pitcher by throwing a stone at it. When they heard this they consoled the princess and said, "Don't weep, darling daughter. We'll see that the young man is taught a lesson. We shall not call ourselves our father's daughters if we can't have him driven out of this land."
So saying the three queens took three pitchers and went to take their bath in the lake next day. The naughty young man was sitting by the lake on that day too. After a while the queens finished their bath, filled their pitchers with water and started back for home. When thy came near the young man he bent low and picked up a stone, all set to throw it at their pitchers. The queens forestalled him and said, "Hey, young man, are you so upset by our beauty? It is a pity you have not yet seen the beauty of our youngest sister Anarashi. We wonder what you would do if you saw her but once. There is no one in this whole world as beautiful as she."
When the young man heard this he became very excited. He felt that he had to have a glimpse of Anarashi at any cost. He begged the queens, "Please tell me where the Pine-apple girl lives. I won't hurt you. I'll do you no harm. Just tell me how and where I can find Anarashi-Kanya." Then the queens said, "You cross the land of fourteen kings and then you will reach the land of the pine-apple girl," and saying this they went away to their home. And our young man started at once for the land of the Pine-apple girl.
He went on and on and covered mile and mile. He paid no heed to the distance he covered, the hunger he felt, the pain he suffered. He pushed forward relentlessly. He failed to keep count of the rivers he crossed and the meadows he traversed. Thus he passed through the lands of fourteen kings and at last came to the country where lived the Anarashi-Kanya. But on arrival there he found himself in a fix. It was a country of witches and giants. The Pine-apple girl was a far cry, one needed all one's wits about oneself just to keep alive in this land. After all, the Pine-apple girl was not more precious than one's own life. So the young man first began to think of his own safety. While he was thus busy thinking, an old woman came up to him. The young man was very upset at the sudden appearance of this old woman. He thought: now this witch would surely kill me. But he tried to save his life by playing a trick on the old woman. He looked up and facing her smilingly said, "Well, auntie, how are you?”
The old woman took him for the son of his brother, affectionately greeted him, and brought him over to her home. There she gave him food to eat and water to drink. The young man was extremely tired with all the pain and hardship of the long journey he had undertaken. He was ravenously hungry too. He quickly finished his meal and went to sleep.
The old woman looked after him well and made his stay quite comfortable at her home. Thus passed nearly a week. And then one day the young man said, "Auntie, I have come here with a mission, and I shall die if my mission is not fulfilled. You must help me in the matter." The old witch said, "Well, what do you want from me? What can I do to help you?"
The young man said, "I don't want any money or riches from you, auntie, you just give me the Pine-apple girl."
When the old woman heard this she became quite annoyed. She tured to his nephew (so she thought) and said, "Don't you ever utter again the words you have just said.”
Whoever can dare get hold of the Pine-apple girl? A million soldiers always guard her zealously. Not to speak of devils and witches and giants, not even a bird or an insect can penetrate that closely watched zone where Anarashi-Kanya lives. If the soldiers see anyone approaching that place they shoot at sight with no warning. Don't you ever think of going there. You will just get killed for nothing."
When the young man heard this he said, "I am already nearly dead as it is. I cannot live without the Pine-apple girl, so if I die in trying to get her there won't be much harm done. You must find out some means, auntie, so that I can go and look for her, or I'll myself here and now before your eyes."
The old woman did not know what to do. When she saw that he was adamant and was not to be dissuaded by any means, she turned him into a mayna bird and addressed him thus, "After you fly for a while you will come to a pine-apple orchard. That's where the Pine-apple girl lives. You will find there a pine-apple radiating brilliant rays like lightning. Pluck it out with one single pull and fly back here in the twinkling of an eye. But make sure that none sees you as you go in and as you come out, or your very life will be at stake.”
Our impetuous young man said, said, "Don't you worry, auntie. I'll do exactly as you have said and no one will see me as I go in our come out."
The old witch then let the bird fly away from her hands.
The Bird flew on and after a while come to the pine-apple orchard. He saw that the whole orchard was protected by an iron net and hundreds of soldiers moved all around it with alert and watchful eyes. He waited patiently and when a sudden chance offered itself he flew into the orchard noiselessly, unseen by any one, and was amazed to see thousands of pineapples with their bright colors filling every corner of the orchard. Wherever he looked he saw nothing but pineapples.
He noiselessly flew from one tree to another and suddenly saw one pine-apple which tallied with the words of the old witch. In the twinkling of an eye he plucked the fruit with one single pull, held it between his beaks and flew back with it to the old woman's home, who was passing agonized and anxious moments all this time. When she saw the bird safely back home she recited her charm and blew on the feathers of the mayna bird and he was again turned into the happy-go-lucky impetuous young man that he was.
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